“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” Winston S. Churchill

As physicians, there is no one more vested in patient safety as we are other than the patient themselves.

Yes, we need rules in place to keep the ‘bad apples’ in check for sure. For the safety of our patients and our profession!

But patients who need access to medical cannabis still have multiple hurdles to overcome and the challenges of ordering physicians continue to mount as well, even in the setting of the new law.

If the intention of the Florida’s legislature was to increase the work of ordering physicians so they are bogged down in bureaucracy and paperwork with the entire burden of that paperwork resting on the physicians shoulder, then that’s been achieved at every level with the existing law. For example: I get why a Physican should enter the patient into the registry and input the order. But ancillary staff members should be able to handle other data entry and non-physician functions. Any function that adds time to the physician role takes time away from patient care and increases the cost of care to the patient because of it. I would like to think that was not the intention…

If their intention was to frustrate the patient (who legitimately needs access) with uncertainty and a technically faulty and inefficient electronic system that delays access then that is certainly what we have. I would like to think that was not the intention…

That all leads to an increase in costs for patients and physicians of time, money and energies.

Here is what I think we need.

1. We need more clarity on the process for patients and physicians. The law is confusing still in some instances and both patients and physicians are still unsure about what they can and cannot do and where to send what and where they can get answers when they need it. Never mind utilizing the option of placing a call by doctors offices or patients to the Florida Department of Health (DOH) or the Office of Medical Marijuana Use , as a 45 minute – 2hr hold time typically results in the response: “Read the law and follow it.” So you’re no closer to an answer than when you first began.

2. If the state wants a central registry then we need 1 efficient system that information goes into that allows for access by the necessary parties, with the safe guards in place to protect patients and physicians. Options exist. The solutions are out there. Please put something like that in place if you’re gonna require physicians to input redundant information that is of little benefit to the suffering patient. I would be happy to share a solution for you that’s out there. For the record, I currently have no financial interest in that solution.

3. If you’re going to work on the Medical Marijuana Use Registry website, please place an accurate alert on it. It does no one any good when the registry is being worked on during regular business hours and data that has been inputted multiple times in an attempt to register a patient gets lost or not saved. If you put yourselves in the shoes of a patient or a Physican you can understand the importance of this.

So let me say this… I get that this is a process and that no system is perfect. I have been a witness to parts of the process where individuals at the state level are working hard to improve the quality of the information available to patients and physicians. I get that time will likely lead to more efficient solutions as the kinks in the system are being worked out. But let’s not allow the fear of a few bad apples to make it harder than it already is, for the sake of our suffering patients and for the sake of the hard working physicians who are trying to help those patients.